The table setting was one of the most important details when planning my wedding – big surprise, right? As an obsessive tableware collector, I was so excited to put my vintage glasses and gold cutlery to use. I called up my friend Laura, the owner of the amazing event rental company Dish Wish, to brainstorm. If you’re in the same boat – trying to finalize the look of your tables – here are the steps I took with Laura to figure it out.
1. Pin it. Pour a cup of coffee, and plan on spending an hour digging deep into the annals of Pinterest wedding boards. It’s a bit harrowing, but you’ll be fine. Start with your favorite wedding websites, and then keep going down the “similar pins” rabbit hole until you have at least 30 pins on your board. After that, just spend a minute looking at what you pinned. What’s the color palette? Does it feel modern or traditional? How are the napkins folded? What type of table cloth keeps popping up? Just get a sense of the patterns emerging.
2. Real Talk. Before you start showing your pins to your planners or vendors, take a minute to outline what makes sense for your wedding. What’s the budget? What kind of service are you planning (buffet , family style, or passed courses?)? And what food are people eating? For instance, you might not need that extra bread plate or soup spoon, though it looks cute. Any metal other than stainless steel becomes instantly more expensive, ditto with colored glassware. Other questions to nail down are what’s the candle situation (votives, long, or special candle holders?)? How are the flowers going to be styles on the table? There is such a thing as too much, and you don’t want to overwhelm the table – then those beautiful details will be lost in the clutter.
3. You can create a “look” without repeating the exact same place setting at every seat. If you’re in love with pink depression glass but can’t afford to let it take a huge chunk out of your rental budget, think about mixing and matching the pink glass with clear glass. If you are gaga for toile, mix in white plates to let the patterned plates go further.
4. Edit. The photos you’re looking at on Pinterest are styled for photography. That means that everything has been smooched together to make a pretty picture – but in real life it’s actually too much. Give each place setting room to breathe so your guests don’t feel overwhelmed with china. You can always have the photographer style a photo on the day, but then let the table be a bit more spread out for the actual event.
5. Don’t forget function! If you put a cute little something on the napkin, what is the guests supposed to do with it after they sit down? Keep it? Leave it on the table? Keep those items small so they don’t take up real estate on the table. Are the flowers so tall that you can’t see across the table? Either raise the flowers further up to create space, or downsize the flowers to encourage guest interaction. These are just two examples, but the idea is to to think beyond the pretty picture and focus on your guests’ actual experience.
When we dialed in the look for my tables, I was actually surprised by what I was drawn to. The setting was a rustic hacienda, and I wanted the plates to have an old world feeling. I love pink depression glass and minimalist gold flatware, so those added a 1930s-1940s touch to everything. I knew I’d have tall candles to give it all a romantic edge. However, all of those things are expensive, so I had to figure out how to make it stretch across 135 people.
We mixed and matched clear and pink glassware (this also gave it less of a girly-girl vibe and broke up the pinkness a bit), and added plain white dishes to the rustic blue and white ones. We had a few tall candles on each table, but sprinkled in votives too. We made it work, and the overall impression was beautiful.
I invited Laura over to my house to walk me through the table scape before the wedding and share some her favorite tips as well. Make sure to check out the video!